Linking up for literacy
The Literacy Exchange and Achievement Programme (LEAP) is a pioneering collaborative project which deploys undergraduate students to support young people in Sheffield schools. The initiative brings together the University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council and a number of secondary schools and colleges across the city with the common aim of working together to help support youngsters’ literacy skills.
LEAP is intended to benefit both school and university students who participate. As well as working to improve literacy, LEAP is facilitating a dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences between pupils, students, academics and teachers. Whilst schools and colleges benefit from research-informed literacy support, undergraduate students will gain knowledge of theories of literacy, learning and cognition, as well as being trained in how to work with young people to improve reading. They will also gain an insight into educational research in practice. In addition, through working with local young people, undergraduates on LEAP will gain greater insight into their University city, its people and concerns, whilst also developing invaluable transferable skills.
One pupil participating in the scheme commented: “I like the scheme because as well as helping me with reading, I get to find out about what happens at university”.
The internationally renowned School of Education at the University of Sheffield is a key partner in the project. Researchers from the School are evaluating the impact of the classroom based literacy work on all participants: pupils, undergraduates and schools. It is hoped that the research outcomes will help us gain a better understanding, both of outreach projects and initiatives to improve attitudes towards reading as well as ability.
Dr Rachael Levy, Lecturer in Education commented: “This project is one of the most exciting literacy initiatives I have been involved with and it is being very well received by teachers and academics. It’s also a great example of how a single project can achieve multiple aims and therefore represents very good value for money. We are looking forward to analysing the results both locally and within the broader academic community”.